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How to become a high school math teacher

Most people have a high school teacher who stands out in their memory. Not surprisingly, college students who are adept at math and want to share their knowledge with younger generations may find themselves drawn to a high school math teaching career. Math teachers not only prepare students for standardized tests and college entry exams but also empower their students’ confidence and critical thinking capabilities and inspire a lifelong love of math.

A high school math teacher writes an algebra problem on a white board for her students.

Individuals with a passion for math who want to make a positive impact on high school students’ lives should start with the right education. Completing an undergraduate degree, such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, is an important step in how to become a high school math teacher.

Work settings for high school math teachers

Aspiring high school math teachers are likely to find work in public and private high schools. Most high school teachers work a traditional 10-month school year, with a two-month summer break; however, teachers in districts with year-round schedules may work nine weeks on and three weeks off.

Further, although most educators work on campus while students are present, in some cases, high school math teachers may need to work additional hours at home to make lesson plans; contact students and their parents; and grade quizzes, tests, and exams. In some circumstances, such as when working for an online program or teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers may be asked to teach remotely.

What do high school math teachers do?

Professionals who choose this career path create lesson plans that are designed to teach students general or specialized math topics, such as algebra, geometry, and precalculus. Although educators’ job duties vary based on the grades they teach, examples of common duties include the following:

  • Prepare lesson plans
  • Communicate with students’ parents about their progress
  • Modify lesson plans based on class size
  • Assess student’s strengths, weaknesses, and abilities
  • Grade students’ assignments, quizzes, tests, and exams
  • Prepare students for state-mandated standardized tests and college entry exams

Fundamental skills for high school math teachers

Those wondering how to become a high school math teacher will be well-served by developing several core skills and competencies. Examples of fundamental skills for math educators include the following:

  • Communication. Math teachers need to explain complex concepts to their students. Educators who possess fine-tuned communication skills can transmit educational messages clearly and concisely. Teachers who communicate effectively often have greater success in the classroom.
  • Emotional and social intelligence. Teachers with emotional intelligence understand conditions that can impact their students, such as bullying or overcrowded classrooms. Educators who are empathetic to their students’ needs are better able to motivate them.
  • Leadership. Educators with strong leadership skills are innovative, approachable, and committed to their students’ success. Consequently, teacher leaders can make a positive impact on their students’ lives.
  • Patience. All students process educational information differently. High school math teachers must be open to answering students’ questions, no matter how often a question has been asked.
  • Problem-solving. Teachers with problem-solving skills can not only successfully mitigate conflict in the classroom but also adapt and retool lesson plans if their message isn’t being received.

Steps to become a high school math teacher 

Aspiring high school math teachers must complete several steps before being eligible to pursue jobs in the field. Although each state has different prerequisites, the following list outlines the general path to becoming a teacher.

Earn a bachelor’s degree

The first step toward becoming a high school math teacher is to complete a bachelor’s degree, such as Maryville University’s online bachelor’s degree in mathematics. A math degree provides graduates with a solid foundation in foundational, theoretical, and practical mathematics.

Complete a credentialing program

After completing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring educators must enroll in a teacher credentialing program. Teacher credentialing or teacher training programs focus on teaching students how to teach. Although most can be completed within a year, each state has its own credentialing requirements. For example, while some states require future educators to complete student teaching hours, others don’t.

Pass a teacher certification test

Most states require that aspiring teachers pass a standardized test, which measures a future educator’s knowledge and skills in a subject area. Each state has its own requirements and sets its own certification test standards.

Pursue an advanced education

Some teachers choose to pursue a master’s degree in education or a related field. Individuals who complete a master’s degree often find that this helps them stand out as educators and can affect salaries.

Salary range for high school math teachers

The average salary for high school math teachers in the bottom 10% earnings category is about $36,000, with a median annual salary of about $50,500, according to August 2020 PayScale.com data. Teachers in the top 10th percentile reported annual earnings of more than $76,000.

Salaries for high school math teachers can vary widely based on a number of factors, such as school district, type of school (private or public), and education level. An individual’s level of experience and tenure can also impact annual earnings.

Job outlook for high school math teachers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of high school teachers, including high school math teachers, is expected to grow by 4% between 2018 and 2028, about as fast as all other occupations. The BLS also notes that the employment outlook will likely vary by region and state. Since many school districts report having difficulty in recruiting mathematics educators, teachers who specialize in this area should have favorable prospects.

Your path toward a career as a high school math teacher starts at Maryville

 Aspiring high school math teachers must start by developing the knowledge and skills they’ll need to be successful. Completing an online degree, such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, can prepare graduates with the tools they’ll need to be effective in the classroom.

This dynamic, regionally accredited program has been designed to provide students with a broad foundation of college-level math concepts, such as number theory, differential equations, and calculus. In addition, math electives, such as predictive modeling and mathematics statistics, allow students to refine their math degree by choosing courses that are relevant to their career goals.

Are you ready to take the first brave step toward a career as a high school math teacher? Discover how Maryville University’s online bachelor’s degree in mathematics can prepare you to become an educator and pass on a love of learning to future generations.

Recommended Reading

Inspiring a Love for Numbers: Qualities of a Good Math Teacher

Guide for Women in Mathematics: History, Scholarships, and Career Potential

What Is the Difference Between Content Standards and Process Standards for Math?

Sources

Houston Chronicle, “5 Important Characteristics to Become a Good Math Teacher”

Indeed, “Guide for How to Become a Math Teacher”

Medium, “What Is It Like to Be a Mathematics Teacher?”

PayScale.com, “Average Mathematics Teacher Salary U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, High School Teachers”